WASHINGTON — Retail sales rose 0.3% to $412.4 billion in November after dropping an unrevised 0.3% in October, the Commerce Department reported Thursday.
The November sales figure was slightly below the expectations of economists polled by Thomson Reuters, who projected a 0.5% increase. On a year over year unadjusted basis, retail sales were up 3.7% for 2012, compared to November 2011.
Excluding gas sales, retail activity rose 0.8% after dropping 0.5% the previous month. Gasoline sales, which account for about 11% of retail action, fell 4%. That was the largest monthly decline reported since a 12.9% plummet in December 2008.
Excluding automobile sales, retail transactions stayed flat in November after remaining unchanged in October. The economists correctly projected retail sales excluding autos would stay flat.
Excluding autos, gas, and building materials, sales rose 0.6% after a 0.1% decrease in October.